by Dr. Daryl Thuroff, DACM, LAc, LMT

Bullying Amongst Teens: Recognizing the Signs and How Chinese Medicine can Help

In the United States alone there are over 3.2 million students a year who fall victim to some sort of bullying, whether it’s verbal, physical, or cyber. Moreover; an astounding 71% of students report that bullying is a problem at their school. Attacks are often unprovoked, or simply brought on by a child seeming “different” in any way from those who are considered to be bullies.

With such a high prevalence, and such devastating effects, it can be helpful to remind ourselves of some of the most common signs that someone is being bullied:

  • Injuries: This can include physical bruising or even visibly broken bones. (This tends to affect younger male teens, though not exclusively.)
  • Anxiety and Depression: An increase in emotional sensitivity, such as depression or anxiety, can in some cases cause insomnia, lack of focus, and/or erratic behavior.
  • Violence: Becoming violent can sometimes become a coping mechanism and can manifest itself in different ways- some teens may become self-violent (self-harm, eating disorders) while others may become more outwardly violent towards people around them.

Sadly, many students do not come forward or speak up about a bully for fear of retaliation. So, the first step is to be aware of, and acknowledge, the signs that a teen might be in trouble and in need of your help. You can start by alerting the appropriate authorities at school and then if nothing changes you may want to reach out the the bully’s parents. In certain cases you may even want to alert law enforcement.

The next step is to help them alleviate both the physical as well as the emotional issues that are created by bullying.

Chinese medicine can also help aid in recovery from physical injury by using specific herbs and acupuncture points. We’re able to help move stuck energy and circulate blood around the body, which both reduces pain and allows for the body to heal more quickly and efficiently.

Talk therapy alongside acupuncture and Chinese medicine can support bullied teens by reducing anxiety, improving confidence and boosting self-worth. Here at YinOva, we don’t necessarily advocate treating major depression with Chinese medicine alone, but we have seen the remarkable effect that Chinese medicine can have when used to treat anxiety and depression. A completely holistic system, Chinese medicine is able to address the complex interaction between body chemistry and emotions very effectively.

From a Chinese medicine perspective, our organs are closely connected to our emotional wellbeing. The most commonly affected organs when it comes to bullying are the Heart, the Liver, the Spleen, and the Kidneys.

The Heart is closely connected to one’s Shen, which is considered to be their spirit. When the heart is unbalanced, we begin to see signs of anxiety, palpitations, and sleep issues.

The Liver houses our emotions and ensures the smooth flow of or energy around our bodies. When this is disrupted, we begin to see anxiety and depression along with frequent sighing, irritability, and fatigue.

The Spleen transforms and transports everything that we put into our bodies as well as our minds; this includes everything from the food we eat to the narratives we tell ourselves. When the Spleen is damaged, there may be excessive worry. Physical manifestation of that worry can result in lack of appetite and diarrhea.

The Kidney is closely connected to one’s will or a person’s drive. When the kidney’s energy is not balanced, we may begin to see fear along with anxiety and depression.

Chinese herbal formulas and acupuncture points can help us create a more balanced emotional state for teens to be better prepared to stand up against bullying and enjoy their teen years to the fullest.

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